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Why Bother To Learn To Work Together?

Why Bother Learning How To Work Together?

One of the reasons I like teaching fourth grade is because I get to teach Idaho history. Every year I find something new to aid my teaching of this subject and this year was no different. At the bottom of my filing cabinet, I pulled out a curriculum I’d inherited from the previous fourth grade teacher that I’d never used before. I blew off he dust and opened its pages. It was a simulation based on Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s Corps of Discovery. After familiarizing myself with the material, I launched my students into the make believe world of this historical adventure. I gave them directions, assigned roles and watched, over the next several weeks, how they either made headway or failed to make headway along the route to the Pacific Ocean, depending on how well they worked together. 

Working as a Unit

In life, we are not always required to unite ourselves with others, just some of the time. And it does take a special kind of energy and patience to work within a group who may be very much unlike ourselves. As my students discovered in the Lewis and Clark simulation they had to learn how to solve problems and make decisions that involved more than just themselves. They had to learn to rely on someone else, and be accountable and do their job.  Listening to differing opinions was especially challenging for them. Exchanging ideas and giving in to the “better” one bruised a few egos.  

For some, working with others may just be too daunting of a task. Easier if I just do it myself. Or is it? As a reformed, “I’ll just do it myself” thinker, I learned the value of working with others.  

Part of my teacher’s training involved group projects. Even as an adult I had my preferences with whom I wanted to partner with—someone just like me please. But our preferences were not considered and instead, our instructor grouped us randomly. At first I did not appreciate this haphazard way. But later, as I got over wanting things my way,  it dawned on me how she was grooming us for real life in our teaching careers. Working with everyone showed me how everyone’s else’s strengths and talents could work in union with mine. Now I’m  teaching the same life lesson to my fourth grade students. 

Why bother how to learn to work together? In real life, there are times when our lives and our welfare actually depend on working together with others if we want to progress. 

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